DynamicNotifications Adds Music Controls, Becomes a Full Lockscreen Replacement {#Android}

When the Moto X was released, one feature was met with more fanfare than the rest: active notifications, which displays notifications on the phone's screen without any user input. It's proven to be such a popular feature, in fact, that Motorola has made it the focus of its ad campaign. In true Android fashion, it wasn't long before a developer came along and made the feature available to everyone.

That app, called DynamicNotifications (formerly ActiveNotifications) has come a long way in recent weeks, and is now available for a wide variety of Android phones. The developer has been slowly adding features, the latest of which is music controls. That addition, along with the many others, pushes it into the realm of full-fledged lockscreen replacements.

Here's what it does: when you get a notification, your phone's display will show that notification without you having to unlock it. A familiar padlock icon appears in the center of the screen, and you can swipe left to see be taken straight to the app that displayed the notification. Simple.

The app has quite a few more tricks up its sleeve, though. For starters, it works with nearly any app for which notifications appear on your phone. In fact, you'll probably have to utilize the feature which gives you the ability to deny specific apps access to DynamicNotifications, because everything will bring up a notification if you don't (even screenshots, for example).

By default, the notifications screen will be black with Android blue text and foreground, but the appearance settings are extensive, allowing you to use your homescreen image as a background, use a custom background, change the foreground color, even change the shape surrounding the notification icon.

With the app's default settings, you can swipe left to open the notification, swipe up or down to dismiss it, or swipe right to unlock your phone. Even those settings are customizable, though, and include the option to turn the screen off when you dismiss.

Those features are all included in the free version. The premium version of the app adds some very useful extras, and is well worth the meager $.99 price tag. "Breathing" notifications will let you determiine how often notifications will reappear in case you miss them. Auto-wake will automatically wake your phone up when you pull it out of your pocket. Be warned: that particular feature is the only one I've had trouble with- all of my music apps would start playing randomly while the phone was still in my pocket.

Night mode lets you prohibit notifications at specific times, and you can even install DashClock widgets.

One of the most useful features only came with the last update: music controls. The premium version of the app allows you to check a box and make DynamicNotifications your full-time lockscreen. I held off on that for awhile, since I so often use Android's stock lockscreen to control currently playing music or podcasts. With the new update, that's no longer a problem.

The music controls do require a swipe, rather than a simple tap, so they take a fraction of a second longer to implement than Android's stock screen. That said, they're pretty beautifully done and work quite well. Every music app I threw at it (Pocket Casts, Google Play Music, Apollo, Rdio) worked, although with Rdio, I did see a significant delay.

I'm only running Android 4.2.2. If you were running Android 4.3, the latest version, you'd notice song title information being displayed as well as profile pictures for things like Gmail notifications.


There are a lot of lockscreen replacements out there, with WidgetLocker leading the pack. In its latest iteration, though, DynamicNotications does everything I need a lockscreen to do, it does it beautifully, simply, gives me tons of control over the experience, and, let's not forget, brings Moto X-style notifications to my not-Moto-X phone. The developer is hard at work on this, and constantly pushes out updates, so chances are there's more to come.